Revised 9 Apr 2017
Our Beecher/Bucher Y-DNA project begun in 2003 has resulted in some very surprising discoveries, like learning that the Henry Beecher d.1795 in Adams County, Pennsylvania, is the same family as Engel Bücher/Biecher d.1778 in Lancaster County, and in 2015 learning that all the Beekers in North Carolina and Indiana descending from Henry Beeker (1764-1837) are part of that same Beecher family.
But most surprising was the test results received in March, 2017, regarding John Beecher (1759-1819) who is buried in Epler’s Church Cemetery in Bern Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
In previous years, we Y-DNA tested three males descended from John Beecher, and all three tests match the Henry Beecher and Engel Bücher family exactly, so it certainly appeared that John Beecher part of we shall call the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker family line.
Then in March, 2017, we received test results from a fourth descendant of John Beecher, and it has created controversy. This test doesn’t match the other three tests and cannot be related to the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker line. It does match the Y-DNA of another family we tested, that of Emanuel Becher (1776-1868), albeit this low-level match indicates the lines did not share a common male Becher in the 1700s (more on this later.)
We had earlier tested two males descended from Emanuel Becher with good reason. While many of Emanuel’s descendants use the Becher surname, some family tree branches changed surname to Beecher in the 1800s.
More significantly, in a 1929 book discussing the family of John Beecher (1759-1819), it was suggested that John Beecher’s father was an immigrant named Emanuel Beecher. And since Emanuel Becher (1776-1868) lived in the same area as John Beecher, and Becher families are found in the same church records as some Beechers, it was logical to assume the Bechers were also Beecher family members. Perhaps Emanuel Becher was descended from an elder Emanuel Becher, who was the father of John Beecher (1759-1819)?
So, we found church, cemetery, census, social security, and military records to complete the family tree of Emanuel Becher down to the present day, then contacted two different living male Beechers descended from Emanuel, who agreed to let us send a Y-DNA test kit to them, at our expense.
But the Y-DNA results revealed that Emanuel Becher’s Beechers are a completely different family. Their Becher Y-DNA Haplogroup is R-M269, whereas the Beecher/Bücher/Biecher/Beeker Y-DNA is I-M253. They cannot share a common male ancestor.
Now our 2017 discovery where our new test for a John Beecher descendant matches Emanuel Becher has us re-investigating the validity of all branches of John Beecher b.1759’s tree.
The Y-DNA tests confirm that John Beecher b.1759’s family tree, as represented for some time by Beecher researchers, has a branch that is in error. After reviewing all four Y-DNA tests on the descendants of John Beecher b.1759, and studying the family trees to see where there might be a mistake, we have to conclude that the family tree branch of John’s son Jacob Franklin Beecher is incorrect, and must be pruned away from the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker family. The three Y-DNA tests done earlier on descendants of John’s son’s Benjamin and George have research evidence that prove those trees are 100% correct, but there are places in the tree of Jacob Franklin Beecher where there is no concrete evidence to prove that particular Jacob is a son of John Beecher b.1759. Because the Y-DNA doesn’t match, we think this branch must be pruned from John’s tree. We plan to conduct a second Y-DNA on a different male descendant to Jacob Franklin Beecher to confirm that Jacob’s branch is in error.
Below, we present the evidence of our investigation, and we discuss how you can help with research John Beecher. This website, SearchTrees.com, has information on all 1700-1900 Pennsylvanians with surnames similar to Beecher, including many Bechers. You can view a complete list on an index page, then click on any name to see that person’s page…
But first learn more about the controversy regarding John Beecher’s family tree…
Four Beecher Y-DNA Test Results
The three descendants of John Beecher we tested prior to 2017 are as follows:
Jim Lee Beecher b.1943 tested as Y-DNA Haplogroup I-M253 and matches all the males tested in the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker line. Jim descends from John Beecher b.1759 as follows:
John Beecher b.1759
Benjamin Beecher b.1801
William Valentine Beecher b.1831
George Lincoln Beecher b.1862
Clinton Everett Beecher b.1885
Marion Wallace Beecher b.1916
Jim Lee Beecher b.1943
You can view Jim’s Tree and go back through his ancestors to John Beecher.
Robert Lee Beecher b.1933 tested as Y-DNA Haplogroup I-M253 and matches all the males tested in the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker line. Robert descends from John Beecher b.1759 as follows:
John Beecher b.1759
Benjamin Beecher b.1801
Cyrus F. Beecher b.1826
James Beecher b.1856
Joseph William Beecher b.1884
Samuel Peter Beecher b.1913
Robert Lee Beecher b.1933.
You can view Robert’s Tree.
Notice that Jim Lee and Robert Lee’s tree branches descend from two different sons of Benajmin Beecher b.1801. Because their Y-DNA tests match, it proves that Benjamin Beecher b.1801 was I-M253 and related to the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker family, not the Becher family.
Further, this Benjamin Beecher moved to Indiana, and is buried in a cemetery in Mexico, Indiana, with his brother, William Beecher b.1799. In “The History of Miami County, Indiana,” published in 1889, is a complete biography written about Benjamin’s son, William Valentine Beecher, and that biography completely details the birth places and dates for Benjamin and his father, John Beecher (1759-1819) who married Mary Albrecht. This is undeniable proof that the two Y-DNA tests of Benjamin’s descendants are the Y-DNA of John Beecher b.1759. You can read that complete biography on William Valentine Beecher’s page on this website.
Prior to moving to Indiana, Benjamin and brother William, along with their sisters Barbara Beecher and her husband Michael Neiswender, moved to Franklin County, Ohio.
In 1854, in a court in Franklin County, Ohio, witnesses testified that the only known living descendants of John Beecher (1759-1819) were in 1854:
John Beecher, Berks County, Pa.
William Beecher, Franklin County, Ohio
Barbara Nyswender, Franklin County, Ohio
Margaret Mullner, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Benjamin Beecher, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Jacob Beecher, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Samuel Beecher, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Catharine Paxon, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Lydia Cook, Clark County, Virginia
This testimony was to get approval for John Beecher’s Revolutionary War pension to be be paid to his heirs. (On a side note, in the 1854 paperwork, the pension office states that John died on 22 Mar 1819, but that is in error because his 1819 dated paperwork states he died 2 Mar 1819, which is substantiated by a 13 Mar 1819 newspaper obituary.)
In the 1850 and 1860 census, we find Barbara and William living in Franklin County. Benjamin in 1850 census is in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and in 1860 he is in Franklin County, Ohio.
Further evidence that John Beecher b.1759 is related to the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker family is his will dated 10 Aug 1818 bearing his signature in German script that appears as surname Bücher that is quite similar to the signature of Engel Bücher who died nearby in 1778. One would think the signature would be Becher if he were related to the Becher family?
The third Y-DNA test we conducted on a John Beecher descendant was:
Mark E. A. Beecher b.1954 tested as Y-DNA Haplogroup I-M253 and matches all the males tested in the Beecher/Bücher/Beeker line. Mark descends from John Beecher b.1759 as follows:
John Beecher b.1759
George Beecher b.1790
William Beecher b.1817
Levi R. Beecher b.1848
William L. Beecher b.1870
Lew Wallace Beecher b.1892
William Lew Beecher b.1922
Mark E. A. Beecher b.1954
You can view Mark’s Tree.
In 2017, Jonathan Lee Beecher tested as Y-DNA haplogroup R-M269 and matches the Becher family line prior to 1700s. He cannot be related to Jim Lee, Robert Lee, or Mark Beecher. Jonathan was thought to descend from John Beecher b.1759 as follows:
John Beecher b.1759
Jacob Franklin Beecher b.1796
Parris Epler Beecher b.1825
John Henry Beecher b.1858
Henry Ward Beecher b.1887
Henry Jacoby Beecher b.1922
Jonathan Lee Beecher
You can view Jonathan’s Tree.
Because the other three descendants of John Beecher do not match Jonathan’s Y-DNA, the odds are that this one branch of John’s tree is in error at some point, and one of the ancestors of Jonathan was actually fathered by a Becher ancestor, and not by a descendant of John Beecher b.1759.
Tracing backward from Jonathan, it is very certain that his grandfather is Henry Ward Beecher, and his great grandfather is John Henry Beecher, from the family’s own knowledge, which is also confirmed by research evidence gathered by Henry Jacob Beecher who spent years researching Beecher ancestors.
His great grandfather John Henry Beecher’s PA death certificate states his father is “Parris E. Beecher” and his mother Rebecca Good.
Parris’ PA Death certificate states his father is Jacob Beecher and mother not known. So we wondered, “Could it be his father was a Jacob related to the Becher family, not John Beecher’s family?”
There is no census record showing Parris living in a Jacob Beecher’s household, and we have found no 1850 census record for Parris to date, and that is the first census where parents and children’s names were listed in the census as a household. The 1790 to 1840 census only list the head of the household’s name, not children, so they cannot be used to confirm Paris living with his parents.
In 1860 census Parris is 35 years old and living with his wife and children. Finding him in 1850 census may provide a valuable clue. Perhaps you can help find it?
We are 100% confident that Parris’ birth date is 6 Dec 1825 per his church burial record and his tombstone inscription, and his PA death certificate has his birth as 5 Dec 1825, a day earlier. We consider the church and tombstone more accurate.
There is a clear baptism record for Parris with his parent’s being Jacob and Catharine Beecher. In the record book of St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Caln Township, Chester County, in 1829 we find this entry there the parents baptized three children on the same day, 10 Mar 1829:
“J. B. Clemson baptized Jacob Franklin son of Jacob & Catharine Beecher at Parents house March 10th. Born September 13th, 1823. Sponsors Parents & Grandmother Beecher.
Rev. J. B. Clemson baptized Pariz Epler son of Jacob & Catharine Beecher March 10th. Born December 6th 1825. Sponsors the same.
Rev. John B. Clemson baptized Kezia Allworth March 10th. Born April 11th, 1828, daughter of Jacob & Catharine Beecher. Sponsors the same.”
So, studying the family tree of Jonathan Lee Beecher’s ancestors, we do not see any ancestor who could be the son of a Becher, except for perhaps the father Jacob Beecher who baptized son Parris. We must wonder if Jacob Franklin Beecher is the son of a Becher father, and John Beecher b.1759 was the father of a different Jacob.
However, Beecher researchers have believed that Jacob Franklin Beecher is the son of John…
Much of what we know about John Beecher’s family is published in the 1929 Book, Kentucky Pioneer and Court Records, written by Mrs. Harry Kennet McAdams, a Beecher descendant, who had access to research conducted by Dr. Abraham Clifford Wolf Beecher (1845-1893). He is named therein as the grandson of Jacob Franklin Beecher, and at the time Dr. Beecher died, his father Jacob Franklin Beecher Jr. was still alive and certainly would have told Dr. Beecher about Jacob Franklin Beecher Sr. The McAdam’s book names Parris Epler Beecher as a son of Jacob Franklin Beecher Sr., and if that information came from Dr. Beecher, one would consider that very accurate.
Dr. Beecher died in 1893, 46 years before Mrs. McAdams wrote her book, so it is possible she used her own research to determine which Jacob was John’s son, and who the children of the Jacob born of John Beecher, and she confused the wrong Jacob as John’s, which would explain our Y-DNA discrepancy. You can download a copy of Beecher pages within this book from our website.
We cannot be 100% certain that Jacob Franklin Beecher was born 9 Jan 1976. His death on 25 May 1882 is confirmed by a Philadelphia death record, an obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and a burial record in the Pittman Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia, all stating he was 86 years old, which calculates a 1796 birth year, so this looks like the right Jacob. But the birth date we have for him, 9 Jan 1796, is from a baptism record in the personal register of Reverend Traugott F. Illing as “Jacob, of John Bucher and wife Maria, b. 9 Jan 1796; bapt. 19 Apr. 1796.” Whether this John and Maria Bucher are the same as John Beecher and Mary Albrecht isn’t certain. There is no photo of his tombstone to confirm an exact birth date, although one may exist at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia. No birth is mentioned in the McAdam’s book.
There are some hints that our representation of Jacob Franklin Beecher in our in our tree is incorrect. In the McAdam’s book, she doesn’t mention him having two wives, but our research does.
A Jacob Beecher is found in 1850 census in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County, with wife Susannah and children, and in 1860 census in West Brandywine, Chester County with wife Susan and the same children. But the McAdam’s book only mentions he was married to his cousin, Catherine Brown, and names their 5 children, none of whom are living near Jacob in 1850 or 1860.
Perhaps one Jacob didn’t marry two wives, but rather these are two Jacobs?
Also, when Jacob’s son, Jacob Franklin Beecher Jr. died in 1906, his Pennsylvania Death Certificate identifies his mother as Catherine Epler, not Catherine Brown (Braun) per the McAdam’s book. (Jacob Juniors’ son was Dr. Beecher.)
We also note that Parris Epler Beecher’s name signals a relationship to the Epler family at the church that bears the Epler name which is the cemetery where John Beecher was buried in 1819. Further, Parris’ brother William Lightner Beecher named one of his sons Parris Beecher (1855-1929).
Whether the info for Jacob, father of Parris Epler Beecher, is by Mrs. McAdams’ own research or from information provided by Dr. Beecher is uncertain, so getting a copy of his own research to see it first hand would be very desirable. At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania library in Philadelphia is Call Number “FC Be” entitled “Beecher (Becher) family of Berks County, Pennsylvania : descendants of Emanuel Beecher : Revolutionary War pension claim of John Beecher, son of Emanuel Beecher” and perhaps this is the work of Dr. A. C.W. Beecher, who lived in Philadelphia? View his family tree page.
We have sent $60 to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and asked them to send us photocopies of all that is in that file. We expect to receive them in May, 2017. We’ll report what we learn here by updating this page.
Henry Jacoby Beecher (1922-2016) spent years researching Beecher ancestors, traveling across Pennsylvania to gather research. Perhaps in his research notes are valuable clues. His son, Jonathan Lee Beecher, took the Y-DNA test that has created this new controversy we are now working to solve.
Some records we are seeking, perhaps you can help locate these?
Find John Beecher b.1759’s baptism record, to confirm his parents’ names, and date of birth.
Confirm John Beecher’s birth date and burial place. The only record is in the McAdam’s book. His tombstone is not found to confirm, and this tombstone is not even listed in Epler’s Church cemetery readings done in the early 1900s, so if there was a tombstone there is was gone more than hundred years ago.
Please share your thoughts or findings with this site’s owner, Jonathan Scott Beacher, firstname.lastname@example.org, who administers the Beecher/Bucher Y-DNA project.
We’ll be updating this page whenever we learn more, so be sure to check back.